FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 029

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The fat portions and the blood were brought to Nahan. He directed a priest to first splatter blood against all sides of the altar. With that done, the fat portion was placed on the hot grill of the altar. Flames shot up as the fat drippings hit the coals. Then he descended the steps and a tray of unleavened loaves that Simon brought as a peace offering was handed over to him. Nahan took a quick glance at Simon and the other men. Simon smiled and nodded. He started singing a psalm and was joined in by everyone else.

Nahan slowly approached the porch of the Temple a little apprehensively. It was a feeling he always felt. Afterall, he was about to enter the most holiest place on Earth. And he knew that his heart was not as pure as it should. His final task is to enter The Holy Place and place the unleaven loaves on the golden table for the Bread of Presence. He looked up at the two tall bronze pillars that flanked the golden double doors. The pillars were named Jachin and Boaz. Jachin was of the line of the priesthood. Boaz represented the line of David. The pillar were as tall as six men standing on each other. The gilded folding doors were almost as tall. Two minor priests stood before the doors waiting. As soon as he was inches from the doors, they slowly opened it, keeping their eyes downcast so that they would not look in. Nahan entered.

Inside was dark in contrast to the bright sunlight outside. He paused just inside the portico. As the tall folding doors closed, his gaze was greeted with a yellowish glowing shimmer reflecting on the golden walls. The Holy Place was a long enclosed hall with no windows. The walls were laid out with fine gold panels decored with palm tree and chain designs. The shimmering effect were caused by ten tall golden lampstands, five on the south side and five on the north. At the end of the hall, was a deep violet curtain called the Veil. By the dim light, he could just make out the silhouettes of the cherubim designs on the Veil. The Veil which is almost five inches thick, covers the entrance to the inner chamber, The Most Holy Place. In there houses the holiest object in all the world, the Ark of the Covenant, which he knew he will never see for only the High Priest can ever enter there.

Sitting before the Veil are two objects, the golden altar of Inscense and the table also plated in gold which is his objective. He goes towards it in a slow paced gait quietly chanting a Hebraic psalm of God’s goodness, holiness and sovereignty. When he got to table still chanting, he solemnly replaced the loaves of bread. When done, he bowed to the Veil and slowly back stepped to the doors which opened just as he came to it. Once outside, he handed the tray with the bread to a waiting priest. He then proceeded back to where Simon and the family was waiting for him where he gave a final benediction. As the family left, Nahan took Simon to one of the alcoves.

“Simon, I know you went to that self-proclaimed prophet,” he said.

“Well, Nahan, I know that you know and by the way, he never publically proclaimed anything.”

“But he is making himself very visible for the people to see and to follow. The leadership is concerned of the kind of trouble this man can bring, especially when the Romans hear of it.”

“Oh, I think he nor the Romans are the problem.”

“What are you saying?”

“You knew I was a leper. I come back after 10 years totally healed but yet, instead of praising with me, you were more interested to wring out of me any information of him… for them.” Simon left.

Nahan was about to return to his quarters, when he was summoned by Caiaphas.

Upon entering the High Priest’s chambers, Caiaphas angrily handed a scroll to Nahan.

“He did it again! He miraculously fed five thousand men with only a handful of fish and some loaves!”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 29th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.  We will take a pause in the story of Nahan the priest and return when face off with the Nazarine. We go back to Demacli, the legion demoniac four years later.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 028

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

On the appointed eighth day, Nahan amusingly watched Simon enter the Temple complex with the entire clan and a crowd of friends. The source of his amusement was that Simon had shaved his head and his beard, as required. The mirth on the faces of all three of Simon’s children testify that they too were trying not to breakout laughing themselves. Then he noticed the animals the family handed over to the priests who already started to examine them for any blemishes. Nahan knew that the final part of the purifiction ceremony only required two male lambs and a one-year-old female lamb, all with no defects, along with a grain offering of choice flour and pressed oil extracted from olives. Instead, Simon took from his herd, two young bulls and a heifer cow that has yet to borne a calf. The women separated from the men and stayed at an elevated floor area designated just for them. The men, being prompted by the priests, moved forward up to the steps of the elevated columned portico that separated the Court of the Priests from the Court of Israel where only those men of Hebrew descent can gather.

Nahan watched them approach with a little apprehension. The men were festive and the women were singing a Psalm of rejoice. But that may change as soon as he makes his announcement. Seeing that he could not delay any longer, he took a step forward and raised his hand up to signal for everyone’s silence. When everyone went quiet, he took a deep breath.

“My friends and family, I must announce that the priesthood no longer consider this as a purification ceremony.” Mumbling voices rose in crescendo. “Please allow me to explain. Ten years ago, I and two others diagnosed Simon to have signs of unusual and spreading whitening of the skin. But I must confess that we were too hasty to declare leprosy. It is quite apparent that by Simon’s healing, the priesthood believes that it was just a skin ailment that lasted so long.”

Simon’s son, Lazarus, was about to protest but Simon held him back by calmly shaking his head.

“Simon?” asked Nahan. “Since you have been away from worship for so long, would you offer your animal and grain sacrifice as a freewill offering of thanksgiving.”

Simon nodded his ascent which was a relief to Nahan. He proceeded through the portico into the inner court or the Court of the Priests. Since he was the presiding priest, he went to the Brazen Sea. It was a massive bronze basin constantly filled with thousands of gallons of water which sat on the southeastern corner of the court. The basin itself sat on the hind quarters of twelve lifesize bronze oxens. Also known as the Laver, it stood taller than two men. Nahan went to a smaller basin that stood waste high, where another priest waited. He rolled up his sleeves and extended his hands and forearms over the basin. The other priest reached up to turn a valve, on the side of the mouth of one of the bronze oxen. Then water poured out of a spout ingeniously hidden in the mouth. After ritually washing his hands, he solemnly crossed to the massive altar on the eastern side. He went up the twelve steps to the top of the platform where he felt the heat from the coals that were just stoked by a priest. Hearing distressed animal sounds, he moved to the edge of the platform to observe the slaughter. The two bulls were already down and the cow was frantically mooing as it was led to the already bloody slaughter area. A priest was calmly stroking it head to help it quiet down. Another brought a clean basin and positioned it under the cow’s neck. He held a knife behind his back waiting for the animal to calm down. And when it did, the priest had adeptly cut into the cow’s jugular. The animal didn’t even feel the slice. Blood poured into the basin held by a priest and was quickly taken away as the cow collapse on the ground. Then, the animals were strung up and other priests start to cut into them.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 28th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.  Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, a Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 7

City of Tiberius, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

Then he sat down. Cornelius was not exactly fond of prose, poetry or the songs of Scriptures. He preferred the historical aspects. And it showed on his face of which the Baptist picked up on.

“The word can be cryptic if you are only hearing but not really listening. Think about it closely and the right questions will come out.”

Cornelius wished he had parchment and quill. Instead, he gazed blankly at the far wall and mentally laid out the words in line segments the way it was sung. In his mind’s eye, the words jumped out at him and his analytical mind went to work.

Clearly, he knew that John the Baptist is a prophet… a messenger from God… a voice of God… in the ‘wilderness’? Herod’s chamberlain did tell him that the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness region of the Jordan. He was thinking that part of Isaiah’s was literal enough, however the next lines were a little harder to take literally. If John is the prophesied messenger, then he will have the supernatural powers to smoothen desert dunes into highways, fill in sunken-in valleys into plains and even flatten both hills and mountains. That would be a sight to see. As a child, he fantasized of being there with Moses when the Red Sea miraculously parted. But somehow he felt that this prophecy had a much more deeper meaning.

So, he asked, “Have you completed your task?”

The Baptist smiled, “Almost.”

If that is so, Cornelius thought then, the making clear of deserts, valleys, hills and mountains for the LORD were metaphors. Like a hunting dog in hot pursuit, his analytical mind went back to work. A prophet’s work is to communicate… to be the mouth of God… ‘a voice calling in the wilderness’… So…

“So, the question is, ‘What is the message from God and to whom?’ ”

The Baptist looked at Cornelius with bright eyes, as if he was debating whether to reveal the message of God to him maybe because he was a Roman… A Gentile. Then he nodded.

“In your studies of the Scriptures, do you recall the coming of a Messiah?”

“My mentor and teacher, since I was a child, did tell me of a legend that God will send the Prophet and Redeemer to set Israel free.”

“For you I shall make the picture clear. What you heard is just partially true and incomplete. Do you wish to journey down the road which will significantly change your life?”

Cornelius hesitated for just a moment. Then he went to the door and called out to Cestus.

“Cestus… get us some food and drink. I will be here all night. You and the men enjoy yourselves in the city.”

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 027

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The doors to the office of the High Priest are as tall as two men and carved with intricate geometric designs. Standing watch were two Temple guardsmen.

Nahan was summoned. He suspects it has something to do with the wandering rabbi in the Galilee area. Ever since he caused such a raucous on the Temple court just a few months ago, Nahan was tasked to investigate. One of the doors swang open and a minor priest let him. The room was long with narrow slit windows on one side.

“Father, your time as High Priest is over. I cannot do the same things that you used to do,” said Caiaphas.

“Herod is a fool,” cranked Annas. “He imprisoned the Baptist instead of having him killed. The Baptist goes around declaring the great sin of him marrying Herodias, his own brother’s wife, but all he does is put him in a cell. I have even heard that the Baptist is taken to his room every night so they can talk. It is like he is keeping him like a pet. We can’t even get our hands on him for as long as he is held at Machaerus in Perea.”

Caiaphas saw Nahan approaching. “Wait, father,” he said. “Nahan. It is good that you have come.”

“Anointed one,” Nahan said bowing. Then, he bowed to Annas. “Your emminence.”

“Last week, you performed a purification ceremony in the valley of Kidron,” said Caiaphas.

“Yes, holy one. Ten years ago, a relative came to me and he was declared unclean for leprosy. All the signs were there. More than a week ago, his brother came to me and requested me to perform this ceremony for a kin. He didn’t tell me who it was. So, I followed protocol. Since the ceremony was suppose to take place outside the Temple, I instructed them to set up camp in the Kidron Valley. Three days later, I and two other priests descended the eastern stairs to find a fairly large encampment. It looked like the entire clan was assembled including that of my own family. It seem I was the only one kept in the dark. Though I admit, I was a little intrigued to see who it was that needed ceremonial purification. When I came into the camp, my family and relatives were all clustered together watching me. They all had this mirthful expression and a few almost brokeout laughing. I suspected I was the butt of a family jest. I was about to harshly rebuke them for sinning when they parted and out walked, to my surprise, someone I didnot expect. It was Simon, my cousin, the very same one I declared unclean many years back.

“I asked him how was it that he was not a leper anymore. He would not say except that he was here in accordance to the Law. And he had prepared everything needed for the ceremony. So, we took him to a tent and we examined every inch of his body and no trace of the leprosy can be found. After, he dressed, we went out and I declared to the family he was free of the disease. Then, they brought two birds needed. I commanded that one of the two birds be slaughtered over a clay pot filled with water. As the blood mixed, I took the other bird and tied the scarlet yarn on its leg. Then, I tied the hyssop branch to the cedar stick. One of the priest both dipped the bird and the hyssop branch in the blood in the clay pot. Then I took the hyssop branch and sprinkled Simon with the blood seven times as is ascribed. After that, we released the other bird.

“It had to be the Nazarene!” blurted Annas.

“It was,” said Nahan. “I got it out of my niece during the celebration. Apparently, my nephew brought him to Galilee and this Jesus supposedly healed him in public.”

“We also knew it,” said Caiaphas. “Some of our people returned from up north and confirmed the event. They recognized your cousin. Anyway, what is the latest with your cousin?” .

“He is suppose to return tomorrow and bring his offerings to complete his purifiction.”

“Very well,” said Caiaphas. “You will make an announcement that you made a mistake ten years ago. That this Simon was not really leprous but was inflicted with a skin condition that healed itself after ten years.”

Noticing the baffled look on Nahan’s face, Annas explained, “Nahan, it is important that we discourage and cut off every information of that Galilean troublemaker.”

“I see, Holy one.” Though at the back of his mind, he was not liking it.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 27th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 026

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
31AD – Bethanyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Content she had done her devotional duty, Mary returns to her favorite spot to watch the comings and goings of the people on the road. Her favorite pastime was to randomly choose anyone on the road and imagined what exotic country they came from or what adventure awaited them. She looks up the road, still not much traffic. The lone wagon was out of sight. So, she turns her gaze downwards, tracing the winding road down the highland until she again spots the two men riding donkeys. They were a lot closer now, maybe about three miles. She closed her eyes and imagined that they were merchants from the ancient mountains of Moab from that secret stronghold called Petra. But they are not just merchants, they are actually Nabatean assasins heading for the city. They were sent by the Nabatean king to take revenge on Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife, the daughter of the Nabatean king. Mary smiled on what her imagination conjured up. The part of the story where Herod Antipas divorced his Nabatean wife for Herodias, his brother’s wife, is true. She heard it said by the Baptist before he was arrested by Herod.

For a good forty five minutes, she creatively weave her tale of other villains, heroes and heroines, including an unrequited love affair. But then in the midst of her reverie, she heard a distant whistling sound. At first, she paid it no mind, but then she heard the whistling sound again and it sounded a lot closer. She took a squinty peek out one eye, but everything was blurry. So, she opened her eyes wide, had to blink twice to clear her vision. What she saw were the two men riding donkeys who she playfully imagined were assasins, were actually her brother on the lead donkey and an older man riding the other ass.

“Lazarus!” She gleefully stood up and waved at him. Then her eyes widen in disbelief. The old man got off his ride, pulled off his head cover and veil that hid his face and slowly walked toward her.

“Hello my sweet cherub,” said the old man.

“Abba?” Mary asked, not believing her eyes. Then, as he came closer, she recognized his smile. “Abba… Abba!” She dashed down the short hill to the road but stopped dead at her tracks as she remembered that she could not come close.

“It is fine, Mary,” said Lazarus as he put a hand on his shoulder. “Father is well and healthy.”

Mary then jumped into her father’s embrace.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 23rd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. We will comeback to the short story of Mary months later when she first meets Jesus. Our next story is about Nahan the Priest.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 6

City of Tiberius, Galilee

CG-book-cover-w

It was twilight when Cornelius entered the cellar below the stables. There were three guards and two other men in ragged tunics sitting on the floor next to a bolted door with a small grilled window. The two men were followers of the Baptist that the Tetrarch allowed to serve his need. An oil lamp was handed to him by one of the guards. Cornelius then handed to Cestus his sword and dagger.

“Sir! You must not go in there unarmed. According to some of these blokes, it took seven of them to subdue him when they arrested him.”

“I’ll be alright.”

He walked to the door. The two followers stood up and backed up out of the way. He unlatched the door and swung it in. Not knowing what to expect, he braced himself for violence. He entered with the oil lamp held high. It took a short while for his eyes to adjust to the dark. Then he saw him standing calmly with hands at his side palms out; to show that he was unarmed. Cornelius beheld not a bulky warrior that held off seven soldiers nor did he see what he’d always imagined was the chosen mouth piece of God. The Baptist was somewhat shorter than he was. He was muscular but not bulky. He had extremely long hair and his beard went all the way to his navel. It was long but not disheveled. His hair and beard were unexpectedly cleaned, oiled and tightly braided into tied bundles. As he scrutinized his camel’s hair clothing with a leather belt around his waist and his hair, he recalled another desert prophet from the book of the Kings of Israel. Elijah was his name and it was he who singlehandedly confronted four hundred fifty Baal prophets on a contest on whose god is the strongest. It was a favorite of his. One man versus four hundred fifty and he prevailed against them. It was written that he did not die but was taken up into the heaven on a fiery chariot. When he asked Jacob why? He said that God would send Elijah back one day to fulfill a task. ‘Could it be true?’ he thought, ‘is this him?’

He broke the silence. “You have questions, I see,” he said in Greek. He gestured to a bench, while he sat on the floor.

“Yes, I do.” Cornelius sat, “Shalom,” he greets in Hebrew. “Peace be with you. I am Cornelius Metellus, Senior Centurion of the Italian Regiment of the 9th Legion. ”

The Baptist smiled. “Greetings, Centurion”, he returns. “Blessings be upon you.”

“Forgive me for staring… May I ask who are you? It is said that a prophet of old shall return. Are you Elijah?”

He started to chuckle. “I am pleased that you know about one of my people’s greatest legends. That is unusual for a Roman.” He peered closely at him like he saw something. “But I see that you had some education.”

“My name is John, son of Zacharias, also known as the Baptist. To answer your second question,” he continued, “it is not for me to say but this… ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.‘”. [Mark 1:1-3 NASB]

Cornelius blinked. He remembered reading those words… just recently, in fact. “Is that from Isaiah?” Cornelius asked in amazement.

The Baptist was pleased. He took his sash and ceremoniously draped it over his head. Cornelius have seen Jacob do this when he ritually sings from the Scriptures. Then the Baptist sang in Hebrew.

“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” [Isaiah 40:3-5 NASB]

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 025

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
31AD – Bethanyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Mary always liked butterflies. This is why she had pots of colorful flowers on her window. There was one particular butterfly that she was paying very close attention to as it hovered over a lavender flower that still had its morning dew. It had orange wings with little black spots. The body was grayish with black stripes on its abdomen.

“Well, my winged friend, what adventure has the Lord have for you this fine day?” Mary asked with dreamy eyes. Then she looks past the butterfly, that had finally landed on the flower to extract the nectar, to the blue skies. After a long while, she whispers to the sky, “Lord, what new adventure have you for me this day?” She smiled.

But her revery was soon intruded upon by a demanding voice. “Mary… Mary! The food in the kitchen will not be done by itself!” It was the voice of her oldest sister, Martha.

Mary flinched at the thought of helping out another day in the kitchen with Martha ordering her around. She can just hear her in her head. ‘Mary, do this! Mary, do that!’ Ever since Lazarus left about two weeks ago, Martha had been ruling the household like a queen.

“No! Today, I am sneaking out like a thief,” she said to herself.

And snuck out, she did. Avoiding her sister and the servants, she dashed out the back gate hearing her sister shout for her. Feeling free as a butterfly, Mary giggles as she skips and a hop straight to the village gates. She knows she’s not a little girl anymore but she was so happy to escape, she didnot care if she acted a little childish.

She headed for a hill that overlooked the road. There was an old oak tree there that she liked to sit under and daydream. As she got there, she sat down on her favorite spot which was a cushion of grass between two roots. From her vantage point, she can see the road wind down the highlands. She can almost see the great river that divides the green region of Judea and the brown arid region of Perea. There was hardly any traffic on the road except for a lone wagon heading for the city and what looks like two men riding donkeys still some distance away.

Mary wondered if that could finally be Lazarus returning home with her father. He said he was going to where father exiled himself and bring him to that healer they heard rumors about. That was about two weeks ago. She had hoped and fantasized he would be miraculously healed. But then she could not help remembering Martha’s words saying that no leper had ever been healed. Even her uncle didnot believe the stories coming down from the north.

“Oh Abba! I miss you so,” she sobbed and her eyes were teary. She got on her knees and turned at the direction of Jerusalem, to where the Temple of God sat on that holy mountain. She bowed down and prayed, “Dear Lord… I beseech you again for your incredible mercy to bring my father home. I recall the story of how your servant Elijah lain upon the dead body of a boy and brought him back to life. Oh Lord, oh Lord. If Elijah can bring a dead boy back, well Lord… I am sorry, Lord. I am too presumptuous. Forgive me, Lord. I am not deserving. I am just a girl who misses her Abba.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 23rd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.